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Monks without monasteries


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#21 Father David Moser

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 03:33 PM

How about a monk in every parish to teach the people. Especially if the priest could use some help in that area. Or if the parish is way too large and he doesn't have time to do all his priestly duties plus teach classes for people like me, who don't get enough of knowing and asking.


While this sounds like a good idea, I would posit that this role of helping the priest teach and minister to the flock is actually the task of the older, more spiritually mature and experienced members of the parish (under the guidance and with the blessing of the priest of course). Is that not the model given to us by the Holy Apostle Paul when speaking of the necessity of the older women teaching the younger ones? Yes monastics to help with these things in the parishes is good, but educated laymen assisting the priest is more realistic and more organic to the life of the parish.

Fr David Moser

#22 Mary

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 03:52 PM

While this sounds like a good idea, I would posit that this role of helping the priest teach and minister to the flock is actually the task of the older, more spiritually mature and experienced members of the parish (under the guidance and with the blessing of the priest of course). Is that not the model given to us by the Holy Apostle Paul when speaking of the necessity of the older women teaching the younger ones? Yes monastics to help with these things in the parishes is good, but educated laymen assisting the priest is more realistic and more organic to the life of the parish.

Fr David Moser


That is true Father. Where there are such older, more mature members, the priests should take advantage of them, and tell them to get involved with the younger folks.

What should we do in itsy bitsy parishes like mine, where most of the older folks don't know what they believe and aren't able to answer my questions? Actually, I don't even go to them with my questions, because I don't want to be like them when I grow up. I know. Terribly judgemental of me. But one old man is completely ecumenical. I don't want to learn from him. However, he is a very kind man and humble enough to listen to me who am half his age, and that, I can learn from him. The women talk about their family problems and health problems and other problems. I know everyone's problems inside out, and now I'm bored, I don't want to listen anymore. But I learn from them too, because I see them smile and not quit coming to the services in spite of their problems.

However, anytime, the discussions get theological in nature, it seems I know as much as they do. But it scares me when people just accept what I say, I need someone who knows more than I do. I guess, there's nothing to fear, since we have very few theological discussions anyway! =)

in Christ,
Mary.

#23 Mary

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 05:30 PM

Just to clarify, what I meant my 'theological discussions' - it's not so much the discussions of doctrines and such. But rather, the practical applications of the teachings into our lives, and how to teach them to our children.

One thing that concerns me a lot, is the children falling through the cracks. Of all the older families that attend our parish, not a one of their children has remained orthodox or married an orthodox spouse. Personally, I see that as a problem. It is true, when the kids are all grown up, no parent can decide for their child, whom they should marry. But, if Orthodoxy means anything to the child, will he not automatically choose to marry an orthodox spouse?

Or is that a protestant teaching and not orthodox, that it is good and right to marry within our own faith?

Those of our families with young children and teenagers, don't come to church unless it's their turn to host coffee hour. That's not the kind of life I want for my family. I want my children to be as excited about going to Church as I am... not just now, when they have no choice, but also later, when they're older, and can be left at home without drawing the attention of Child protection services...

How do I teach my children to love God and to love the Church? This concerns me, because I don't want to lose my children. I know they have free will, but I also know that I have some kind of influence and responsibility in training them. Who's going to teach me that? Logically, I'd look for one who has been successful at it....

things like that, that I need good teachers for...

In Christ,
Mary.

#24 Nina

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 09:09 PM

But, if Orthodoxy means anything to the child, will he not automatically choose to marry an orthodox spouse?
In Christ,
Mary.


Orthodoxy means my life to me and I still chose an heterodox to -God willing- get married with. Love can not be automatic. I know that I took a cross on my shoulders, however I trust God and I know that He will help me and my future spouse on our path for our salvation. I do not know what Fathers say on this matter though.

#25 Father Anthony

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Posted 01 March 2008 - 09:35 PM

Orthodoxy means my life to me and I still chose an heterodox to -God willing- get married with. Love can not be automatic. I know that I took a cross on my shoulders, however I trust God and I know that He will help me and my future spouse on our path for our salvation. I do not know what Fathers say on this matter though.

We seem to be bringing in factors here that will bring this thread into an off-topic range very fast. I do not want Father Deacon Matthew having to pull his hair out trying to separate posts into another thread(s).

Let me make a quick post regarding the above comment. Any further elaboration though really should probably get a thread of its own in all fairness. Each Orthodox Christian is called to a vocation in their adult life. Some are called to a life in matrimony, to work out their salvation with a spouse and family. Others may be called to a life in the monastic state. For each to discern this calling or vocation, one way or the other must do so through prayer and hopefully with guidance. If one enters either in haste, it definitely can be disastrous not only emotionally but spiritually.

Again, any further elaboration should be probably done on a thread of its own in the appropriate area so as not to have this wander all over the place.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+

#26 Owen Jones

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 03:13 AM

Back to the topic, the church is hopelessly over-institutionalized. I'm not advocating that we take a wrecking ball to what we have, but to be open to any number of additional ways of living out one's Christian life, other than just attending services and covered dish suppers. Can I get a witness?

#27 Father Anthony

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 11:51 AM

Back to the topic, the church is hopelessly over-institutionalized. I'm not advocating that we take a wrecking ball to what we have, but to be open to any number of additional ways of living out one's Christian life, other than just attending services and covered dish suppers. Can I get a witness?

Dear Owen,

Is this an example of a monastic without a monastery that you might consider outside of the "box" as far as being outside of the over-institutionalization? http://incommunion.o...f-the-open-door Now to get ready for Church.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+

#28 Victor Mihailoff

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 04:15 PM

That aside, I laid out the three possibilities of what a “monastic without a monastery” could be. They were:

1.) Those that have been ordained into priestly ranks without ever having spent a day in monastic formation in a monastery and had no choice in accepting the monastic rank?

2.) Those that seem to have monastic titles and ranks afforded them because they are celibate clergy and that is the custom of their particular jurisdiction?

3.) Are monastics that have been asked by their communities and hierarchs to leave the confines of the monastery, to serve the church in the role of missionaries, evangelists, and pastors?

It seems to me that all three of these possibilities are limited to hieromonks (priest monks) when the question is about "monks without monasteries". I have a Greek friend from Romania who was tonsured at age 21 in the year of my birth. By a series of unfortunate circumstances he ended up to no longer have a monastery to live in.

Finally, after being evicted from a wealthy Greek man's property because of a theological dissagreement in which the property owner was definitely wrong, and after which the monk had spent his entire savings on building a cabin to live in, he described his plight to a Russian bishop who used his own money to buy him a one bedroom home in a Russian Orthodox retirement village. Later the monk made an attempt to locate a monastery overseas in which to live. He found one that had as its abbot a monk that started his monasticism in the same monastery as my friend and knew him well. He was overjoyed when both the Greek abbot and the Russian bishop agreed to bless the move. Then tragically, the abbot died before the move was initiated. The replacement abbot was a twenty one year old smoking monk. That's right, a cigarette smoker to guide monastics in the life of strict abstinance! So my friend remains a monk without a monastery.

Con Zalalas, a dean of an Orthodox educational institution in USA translates audio recordings of the Greek language recordings produced by Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios. Many people consider this Archimandrite to be a modern day theologian. One of the translated recordingss states that the only difference between an Orthodox monk and a lay Orthodox Christian is celibacy. Con Zalasas states that all the other governing factors of Orthodox life are basically identical but for celibacy instead of faithful marriage to one spouse. (jump to ***)

He makes no mention of ordination into the priesthood and it is my understanding that ordination and tonsure are separate sacraments that can and often do exist alone for one person or other. In other words, monks who are not clergy and clergy who are not monks. So those three choices seem restrictive to me.

Now in these latter times, there are many people who live in the world as celibate practicing Orthodox Christians who quite simply cannot find an Orthodox monastery that contains monastics who speak their language that they can join as a member. There are so few to choose from as it is and then there is the maturity and personality of their abbots. A 21 year old smoker is hardly conducive to spiritual growth and would have a profound detrimental effect on the behavior/behaviour of the members in the community. One could and probably would find oneself surrounded by individuals who did not share the true goal of monastics. I knew a Serbian Monk who one night found a scantily clad prostitute in the shared bathroom near his cell in the monastery in which he lived. She was giggling and one of the monks drunkenly called out to her to hurry back to his bead. The Serbian monk I knew fled within 12 hours and got a job as cook aboard a fishing boat. He ended up in USA and stayed in a Russian monastery there. He painted icons, sold some to pilgrims and retained an immigration lawyer to help him gain permanent residency in the USA.

*** So there can be so called monastics who have never even been tonsured according to Zalalas, and it is interesting to note that St John the Baptist, who is often considered the first monk in the New Testament, was never tonsured because there were no Christian bishops as yet and no Christian abbots as well.

Also in the olden times of Russia there were wandering monks, some of which were not genuinely called to the monastic tonsure but became monks to avoid being drafted into the army. They had no monasteries but visited one after another in their wanderings. Then there was Brother Joseph the bearer of the myrh streaming icon of the Mother of God. It is commonly reported that this South American convert who wore no beard and had short hair was secretly tonsured into monasticism. His secret was revealed after his martyrdom.

Brother Joseph, who is an official candidate for canonisation into sainthood, did not live in a monastery but traveled the world bringing the Holy icon to churches and monasteries for the faithful to venerate. He may fall under the third possibility listed above, but then rather loosely since he was not asked to leave the confines of a monastery to serve in the roles mentioned and he was not asked by his community or hierarch to do so. Neither was he ordained to a clerical office.

Brother Joseph had a special close spiritual relationship with the Mother of God. He could actually see the myrh coming down from above to the surface of the icon whereas everyone else only saw it on the surface of the icon. Joseph was himself an iconographer and painted (wrote) a copy of the miraculous icon two years before his martyrdom. He took it to Russia and presented it to a non MP bishop for safe keeping. Once in that bishop's hands, the copy immediately began weeping myrh just like the original which never wept myrh before brother Joseph took it to numerous holy sites in Jerusalem and read canons over it. Brother Joseph was more monastic than many scandalous so called monks in monasteries today (smokers, clients to prostitutes and others I won't mention).

So there are other ways that people can be monastics without monasteries and not have to be ordained into the priesthood. I did not even get into the many saints who lived as recluses or celibates in residential areas, that never received the tonsure. There were also those who were not tonsured till they died in this world and were seen by a saint to receive the monastic attire from angels as their souls rose up from their bodies.
In Christ, Victor

#29 Father Anthony

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 10:16 PM

That aside, I laid out the three possibilities of what a “monastic without a monastery” could be. They were:

1.) Those that have been ordained into priestly ranks without ever having spent a day in monastic formation in a monastery and had no choice in accepting the monastic rank?

2.) Those that seem to have monastic titles and ranks afforded them because they are celibate clergy and that is the custom of their particular jurisdiction?

3.) Are monastics that have been asked by their communities and hierarchs to leave the confines of the monastery, to serve the church in the role of missionaries, evangelists, and pastors?

It seems to me that all three of these possibilities are limited to hieromonks (priest monks) when the question is about "monks without monasteries". I have a Greek friend from Romania who was tonsured at age 21 in the year of my birth. By a series of unfortunate circumstances he ended up to no longer have a monastery to live in.

Dear Victor,

If you read on further in the post that you quoted, it is not restricted to just monastic clergy. Yes, I acknowledge there have been situations that have monastics located outside of the monastery. In America though, from which the scenario of the three above points you quoted, the first two are prevalent while the third is not. In the case of the first two points, yes it has to do with priestly ordination. The first category is those that have had by virtue of their marital status afforded the clerical monastic titles. The second being a prevalent state in one of the larger jurisdictions here in America.

The issue I raise with the first two, is that they were for matters of formality either afforded the monastic titles or made to take upon monasticism while not inclined to responsibilities of that calling. That in itself could lead to a possible disaster to the one made to take on the life and to those that surround them. Neither has embraced the monastic lifestyle willingly, and is what happens in most cases outside of the day of their tonsure in the second category, they have never spent more than a day at a monastery. You are quite right from your understanding that priestly ordination and tonsure are separate sacraments of the Church. As Father David pointed out in his above post, you do have some that are assuming the sacrament of monastic tonsure without the benefit of ever having the sacrament, or possibly entering it under duress when it was not their calling.

Now for the third point. If you ponder what you bolded, you should be able by simple deduction be able to realize that it could include ordained and those that are not ordained. The only word that would be reserved for a priest would be that of pastor. The role of missionaries and evangelists is not reserved for those that are ordained. We have missionaries, cathecists, and evangelists that serve the church today that are not ordained. They should properly formed spiritually and have a way of serving those that they are trying to reach. I have cited above the original missionaries from russia from the Varlaam Monastery. Only a few out of the original eight missionaries were priestmonks. The rest were simply monastics that were still called to be those that help bring forth the gospel and the faith.

What the purpose of the original three points comes from is another thread that was separated off into this thread regarding the loose use of the term "monastics without monasteries" and my trying to clarify just what was meant by this terminology in its service to the American Church now and in the future.

I hope that this clarifies things a little for you.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+

#30 Victor Mihailoff

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 01:45 AM

Dear Faithful Servant of Christ our Lord.


What the purpose of the original three points comes from is another thread that was separated off into this thread regarding the loose use of the term "monastics without monasteries" and my trying to clarify just what was meant by this terminology in its service to the American Church now and in the future.

I hope that this clarifies things a little for you.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+


Yes it does. I now see that your focus was on contemporary monasticism and how monastics without monasteries exist within the organisation of large Church jurisdictions in USA. The limitation to three general types of circumstances in which monastics come to exist outside of monasteries was specifically addressing the above criteria and I was looking at monastics without monasteries in a purely general sense not bound by time and geographical location.

In Christ, Victor

Edited by M.C. Steenberg, 03 March 2008 - 09:08 AM.
Fixed broken quote tag


#31 Father Anthony

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 12:59 PM

I think we have now established that we are talking about the contemporary situation concerning the term "monk without monasteries" in America. How do we start addressing points one and two in the initial post along with possibly getting more of point three to help start building the Church in America?

I know this sounds to be a tall order, and yet I will look forward to any replies this evening when I return from day one of two all-day meetings.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+

#32 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 03:12 PM

I think we have now established that we are talking about the contemporary situation concerning the term "monk without monasteries" in America. How do we start addressing points one and two in the initial post along with possibly getting more of point three to help start building the Church in America?


Dear Father,

I'm not sure of the difference between one and two. Let me describe my "neighbor" priest here where I live and then perhaps you can tell me whether he is a one, two or three.

This man was ordained a celibate priest probably 30 years ago or more. For most of that time he served parishes as a non-monastic celibate. About 5 years or so ago, his bishop visits the parish and overnight tonsures him a monk and raises him to the rank of Archimandrite (giving him "credit" for the years of service as a non-monastic priest). So is he a one or two or is he a solution to the problem?

I ask this because it will help me get a grasp on your point (which I'm not sure I'm fully grasping).

Fr David Moser

#33 Father Anthony

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 12:36 AM

Dear Father,

Is it possible for a point 1a? All kidding aside, I would say he fits really more point one more than two. No formation at all and sudden tonsure and elevation. He may be sincere about trying to live the monastic life now, and I am not one that will want to judge him or his bishop's motives. I just pray that in some way he is connected to a community to offer him some spiritual support.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+

#34 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 01:10 AM

One may take the monk out of the monastery, but I doubt it is a good idea to leave the monastery out of the monk.

Herman

#35 Offieriad-Mynach Mihangel

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Posted 12 April 2008 - 02:22 AM

Having scrolled through this thread, the original post and some subsequent ones, dealt with the idea of celibate laity who attempt live holy lives, yet are not tonsured or otherwise "recognised" by the Church.

Many such people are valued members of congregations, and many of them would not want recognition.

However, I will dare to mention an example of such recognition from the pre and post-Schism western church: The Bedesmen. "Bede" derives from Old English/Middle English "beodaen" or "biddan" originally meaning "bid" but developing to mean a man of prayer. Such men were usually widowers or elderly, who prayed for a benefactor. Royal Bedesmen were given a blue cassock-like coat as their habit and were officially authorised to seek alms for their sustenance - later they were given a small pension. This developed over the centuries, with most Bedesmen attached to cathedrals, where they could be seen praying at non-service times. The post persisted in England until the mid nineteenth century.

Where you don't have a nearby monastery, the idea of having such "men of prayer" frequenting the church and praying throughout the week seems interesting.

Fr. Michael




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